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26 Apr 2022

8 essential business lessons from Steven Bartlett

8 essential business lessons from Steven Bartlett

Here are eight key lessons from Dragons' Den star, Steven Bartlett, that will help you in running small business. Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur and the latest addition to BBC's Dragons' Den, spoke to fellow entrepreneur James Sinclair for Osome's Revenue Masterclass. 

1. Don't buy into society's expectations on sacrifice

Despite his relative success at the age of 29, Steven acknowledges that there are people in his life who are way ahead of him in terms of business success. when asked if he could have achieved more, he points out that hindsight illuminates the places where you wasted time. He adds that if he was more self-believing or had a higher conviction in the things that ended up going well then he could've done more and that focusing too much on regret reduces the lesson. 

If he were here to say he sacrificed in one area, it would be his family relationships with them disagreeing with him dropping out of university. He says, "Families want the same thing for you but disagree on the path on how to get there."

2. It's okay to hire employees in the early stages 

When he started his business, Social Chain, Steven employed someone almost straight away. He says that there are a lot of people, like himself, who want to work for free for experience or for £500 a month. Steven's first employee was seven years older than him, on Jobseekers' Allowance and was invested in Steven's vision for Social Chain.

3. Don't get down on yourself for having issues with covering payroll

Steven had his fair share of payday issues with Social Chain, partially because the company was growing very quickly. "There were many anxiety-riddled months where on payday I didn't have enough in the bank to cover payroll," he says. 

Clients wouldn't pay in the same timeframe that the company had to pay staff. Like many entrepreneurs, if Steven is having payroll problems, he wouldn't pay himself. In fact, he didn't pay himself during the pandemic. The takeaway is that entrepreneurs shouldn't get discouraged if they're having payroll issues. 

4. You can recover from a bad credit score 

When Steven went to university, he didn't know what credit was. He got four credit cards and crashed his credit score. No one would even put his name on a business bank account, so he had to learn how to live personally and in business with no credit or debt. 

5. Stay grounded 

It is really important to stay grounded and remember where you have come from. Also, always remember what it took to get you to where you are. It can be easily forgotten and you can teach others a lot about your experiences to help them in their careers. 

6. Personal branding is key

Steven is a big believer in personal branding. "If I was to do nothing else but recruitment, winning business from clients, etc - it would be personal branding. It's the most effective tool for scaling growth, hiring people, getting press, and putting perspective into the world."

He started doing personal branding six or seven years ago, but it's really frown in the past three months - no doubt thanks to the recognition he's getting from Dragons' Den. 

He recommends LinkedIn as a worthwhile platform for new business as the reach per pound spent is highest: "Posting an article gets a tremendous amount of reach from LinkedIn for the effort put in."

7. The four key drivers of B2B revenue 

Social Chain didn't have an outbound sales team until he left the company. He used his four key revenue drivers in B2B business instead:

  • Speaking on stage 
  • Personal branding of himself and one or two other executives 
  • Use LinkedIn and social media
  • Newspaper coverage 

8. Preparation + luck = success

Timing was a major factor in Steven's success. On the relationship between preparation and luck, he says: "Think of it as a wave coming into shore. Then you have to pick a surfboard and hope it brings you to shore."

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